Email vs Mobile Marketing: Which One Fits Your Message?

How should your business connect with customers – through a mobile marketing or an email campaign?

Much like the case of email marketing vs. social media, email vs. mobile doesn’t have to be an either-or discussion. There are definitely clear advantages to both depending on your message and the goal of your campaign.

Here are some ways to make both email and mobile marketing work for your business.

Consider Your Marketing Goals

First, let’s be clear about what kind of mobile marketing we’re discussing here. There are a number of ways to reach your customers on their mobile devices – through apps, mobile web sites, ads in mobile browsers, location based services like Foursquare and SMS text messaging.

While more and more consumers are buying smartphones, 41% of the population still use basic phones without many of the app and web browsing capabilities that smartphones have. Texting is the most popular use for cell phones, even among smartphone users. If you’re looking into mobile marketing for the first time, SMS marketing is the easiest place to start and will give you a bigger audience than newer forms of mobile marketing.

Every business has different goals for their marketing efforts. Before adding SMS to your campaign, make sure it enhances your own overall goals.

Online Action

Is your business primarily conducted online?

Although 83% of US consumers own a cell phone, most of them admit that mobile advertising does not affect their buying habits. If your goal is to influence decisions and lead readers to purchase, email is the best channel, especially if those sales are online.

Think about it: How likely are you to type in a web address included in a text message in order to buy something online? Mobile Internet browsing can be cumbersome and just isn’t as convenient as clicking a link in an email to buy online.

Email marketing is better suited for your online calls to action – liking your business on Facebook, visiting your blog, using a coupon on your web site. You’re more likely to catch your customers when they’re already at a computer through email. Making a purchase on a web site accessed by a link in a text message just isn’t convenient when you’re on the go.

Reaching Customers With a Timely Message

72% of consumers use their phones while they’re out and about. 63% use them while shopping. And the majority of cell phone owners most frequently use them for texting. An SMS text message campaign can reach your audience with pertinent information while they’re on the go.

SMS marketing is best when you want an instant response. “Use this coupon at the register today.” “Remember your appointment at 2 p.m.” “Text to vote for your favorite artist now.” Reminders, alerts, and interactive content will get the best response from mobile customers.

Remember, consumers use their phones on the go, where they don’t have time to read a detailed message. For short reminders that encourage physical action – visiting your establishment, for example – go mobile. For more detailed content focused on future events, use email.

Connecting With The Right People

Your customers have their own preferences about how they like to receive marketing messages: 77% expect and prefer brands to market to them with an email campaign. Only 9% prefer businesses to contact them through text messages.

Carefully consider your customers’ preferences before you decide to email or text them your latest promotion. Ask them up front on your web form and include an optional field to collect their phone numbers. You could also include a short survey in your welcome message to ask your subscribers how else they’d like to hear from you.

Papa John’s offers customers a choice of email or text message alerts

Since most consumers prefer email over mobile marketing, it’s vital to get their permission before texting them promotional messages. Ask what they prefer and honor their preferences.

Mobile and Email are Complementary

Expanding your marketing efforts into several channels expands the reach of your business. Like social media can help you reach customers on a more personal level than email, mobile can help you reach them at just the right time.

Don’t think of mobile as a replacement for email, or that one is more superior than the other. Consider your message and choose the best channel for it.

Have you tried mobile marketing? Have you signed up for a mobile marketing campaign yourself? What are your views on SMS marketing?

While this post covered SMS marketing vs. email, there are a number of other ways to reach customers on a mobile device. Stay tuned for part two, where we’ll look at ways to use email marketing and mobile apps together. Sign up for blog updates so you won’t miss the next installment!